Homemade Applesauce for Canning


How to Make Homemade Applesauce

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Homemade applesauce is so easy to make. Preserve your fall apples by canning your applesauce in a water-bath canner for year-round deliciousness!

With homemade applesauce, you can control the texture and the amount of sugar (or, you don’t need sugar at all if you use naturally sweet apples). Then, of course, there’s the explosive taste! There’s a really good chance you will never buy store-bought applesauce again.  

Water-bath canning is also a good way to use up those imperfect apples too. Apples are high in acid and have enough natural sugar to preserve well when canned in a water bath. You don’t need a pressure canner at all.

If you have orchards nearby, you may find a farm stand or farmers market offering bushels or half-bushels of “drops” (fell off the tree and will develop a soft spot, so can’t be sold for a premium price) or “seconds” (lack color, too small, weird shape, etc.) at bargain prices. These may not keep well for fresh eating, but if you like the flavor, they’ll be perfect for canning as sauce, butter, or pie apples. 

Any apples will do, but if you can, try to assemble a mix of sweet and tart apple varieties. See our best apple varieties for applesauce

Homemade Applesauce Recipe

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 14 pounds apples for 9 pints or 21 pounds of apples for a 7-quart canner load
  • 1/2 Cup Water or Apple Cider
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Stockpot or sauce pot, knife, spoon
  • Optional: Food Strainer or Food Mill if you want smoother consistency

If canning, supplies needed:

  • Water-bath canner
  • Jars and bands
  • New lids
  • Jar lifter, funnel, canning ladle, bubble popper
  • Optional: To prevent applesauce from turning brown while you are prepping use Ball Fruit Fresh or Mrs Wages Fresh Fruit Preserver per their directions. You may also use lemon juice or citric acid - add 1 teaspoon of citric acid (U.S.P. grade) or ¾ cup lemon juice to 1 gallon water. Drain fruit before canning. 

Making the Applesauce

  1. Wash apples well. Remove stems, cut in quarters or slices, peel, and remove cores. Add apples to stainless steel stockpot or sauce pot with half a cup of water or apple cider to keep the apples from sticking to the pot as they begin cooking. If you like cinnamon, add a whole cinnamon stick to the pot.
  2. Cook the apples until they are soft, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Let the cooked apples cool slightly. Remove the cinnamon stick if you’ve used one, and run the cooked apples through a food mill into a large pot or bowl. 
  3. Taste the sauce, adding sugar or brown sugar to taste, but only if you want a sweeter sauce. You don’t need added sugar for preserving applesauce safety. (I prefer to sweeten or add other ingredients just before serving.) 
  4. Optional: Run the cooled applesauce through a Food Strainer or Food Mill to remove skins, seeds, and to smooth out the sauce. Return the applesauce to your sauce pot.
  5. Warm the applesauce up again until simmering hot.

Canning the Applesauce

  1. Wash jars, lids, and bands in warm soapy water and rinse well. Dry the lids and the bands. After jars are washed, place jars in water bath canner with water and bring to simmer. Boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize.

  2. Remove the warm jars from the canner. Funnel the hot applesauce into the clean jars, leaving a ½-inch headspace (space between the top of the applesauce and the rim of the jar.) Wipe around the rim with a damp cloth or paper towel to remove any bit of sauce that might prevent the lid from sealing, then place the lid and tighten the screw band to hold it in place.

  3. Using the jar lifter, carefully lower each jar into the water bath and into place on the jar rack in the canner. Add additional boiling water to ensure the jars are covered with at least an inch, preferably two inches, of water. (When adding water, use the hot water from the small pot your lids were in. Pour the water around the jars and not directly onto them.)

  4. Cover the canner and bring the load to a full boil; boil continuously for the time recommended in the table below (20 minutes at altitudes of less than 1,000 ft.):

Table 1. Recommended processing time for applesauce in a boiling-water canner


Processing time at altitudes of

Jar size

0 - 1,000 ft

1,001 - 3,000 ft

3,001 - 6,000 ft

Above 6,000 ft


15 min









If the water stops boiling at any time during the process, start over again, and begin timing once the water comes to a vigorous boil. Maintain a continuous boil for the full time recommended in the table above.

5. When the processing time is up, turn off the heat and let the canner cool down for 5 to 10 minutes. Carefully remove the cover from the canner, tilting the lid away to avoid the steam. Using the jar lifter, carefully lift each jar straight from the water bath, making sure not to tilt it, and set it on a clean kitchen towel to cool. Don’t fiddle with or try to further tighten the screw tops. 

6. Leave the jars alone until they’ve cooled completely (12 to 24 hours). You’ll know a jar has a tight vacuum seal if it has an indentation at the center of the lid. (Refrigerate any jars that haven’t sealed properly, and eat the applesauce within a few days, or pour it into a freezer container and freeze.) Remove the reusable screw tops from sealed jars, carefully wipe the rim with a damp cloth, and store the jars in a cool, dark place.

That’s it!

About The Author

Margaret Boyles

Margaret Boyles is a longtime contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. She wrote for UNH Cooperative Extension, managed NH Outside, and contributes to various media covering environmental and human health issues. Read More from Margaret Boyles

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